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China Moves to Delay Parliament for First Time in Decades

Feb 17 2020

China Moves to Delay Parliament for First Time in Decades(Bloomberg) -- China is considering delaying its most high-profile annual political meeting for the first time in decades, as the government attempts to contain an outbreak of a deadly new strain of coronavirus.The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will meet Feb. 24 to consider a delay of the annual meeting of the full parliament planned to convene March 5, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday. The Standing Committee will also consider measures to curb practices that may have contributed to the deadly strain of virus jump to humans, including a ban on the wildlife trade and the consumption of wild game.Some 3,000 members of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, were expected to convene in Beijing for about two weeks of meetings attended by President Xi Jinping and other top leaders. The annual political pageant also includes meetings by the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body made up of around 2,000 representatives from companies, ethnic minorities, cultural organizations and other groups.While the decision was widely expected, it represented an acknowledgment by the Communist Party that the health crisis that began in the central province of Hubei had disrupted basic mechanisms of government. China has held its so-called Two Sessions in March every year since 1985, when then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping formalized the legislative calendar as part of his reforms after Mao Zedong’s turbulent rule.Zang Tiewei, spokesperson for the NPC’s legislative affairs commission, was cited as saying the body’s deputies were needed back home, among which a third are local officials. “In order to ensure that people’s attention is focused on the prevention and control of the epidemic and that people’s lives and health are given top priority, the chairman’s council, after careful assessment, considered it necessary to postpone,” Zang said, according to Xinhua.High RiskChina unveils its annual economic targets, defense spending projections and other key policy decisions during the NPC meetings. The party has also used the occasion to announce major policy changes and personnel reshuffles, like Xi’s 2018 decision to scrap term limits, which paved the way for him to rule indefinitely.This year the NPC had been expected to deliberate on a draft Civil Code, consisting of sections on property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance and torts. Xinhua also said the Standing Committee would continue to deliberate proposals for appointments and removals, without elaborating -- hinting that further personnel reshuffles could be underway despite the cancellation.Officials faced the risk that some attendees could unintentionally transmit a virus that has already sickened more than 70,000 and killed almost 1,800 in China. And gathering political leaders at great expense in the capital while many Chinese remain cooped at home could also prompt public criticism.What You Need to Know About the Spreading Coronavirus: QuickTakeThe municipal government of Beijing has instituted rules requiring 14-day self-quarantines for new arrivals in the capital, meaning deputies would’ve had to arrive by this week to attend the meeting without a special exception.Xi has ordered “all-out” efforts to contain the crisis, which has already proved more deadly than the SARS epidemic that killed almost 800 people across Asia 17 years ago and led to widespread criticism of China’s response. Beijing has taken unprecedented steps to slow the latest outbreak, including banning travel from the hardest-hit areas in central China.On Feb. 13, China abruptly replaced the top leaders of Hubei and its capital Wuhan. Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong was named to replace Jiang Chaoliang as provincial party secretary, in a rare political shakeup.A flurry of municipal legislatures across China had delayed their annual meetings in recent weeks, including the cities of Jinan, Qingdao, Wenzhou and Zhengzhou. The provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan also postponed their legislative meetings.“Though it’s a rare move, in reality the possible delay of the legislature meeting wouldn’t have much tangible impact on legislative work,” said Yang Dong, a law professor at Renmin University in Beijing. “The main focus of this year’s NPC meeting is to vote on the long-expected Civil Code. But other than that, there are no other urgent issues like major personnel reshuffles that need to be addressed.”(Updates with NPC comment in fifth paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected the time in March that the NPC has been regularly held.)\--With assistance from Peter Martin and Jon Herskovitz.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Yinan Zhao in Beijing at yzhao300@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Passenger Confirmed to Have Coronavirus After Leaving Cruise Ship That Docked in Cambodia

Feb 17 2020

Passenger Confirmed to Have Coronavirus After Leaving Cruise Ship That Docked in CambodiaAn 83-year-old American woman who was aboard the Westerdam cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19 after disembarking in Cambodia and traveling to Malaysia


The global spread of the coronavirus: Where is it?

Feb 17 2020

The global spread of the coronavirus: Where is it?Beijing (AFP) - The coronavirus that emerged in central China at the end of last year has now killed nearly 1,800 people and spread around the world.


Support for Japan’s Abe Slides Amid Doubts Over Virus Handling

Feb 17 2020

Support for Japan’s Abe Slides Amid Doubts Over Virus Handling(Bloomberg) -- Voter support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fell in three polls published Monday, with two showing public dissatisfaction over his government’s handling of the new coronavirus outbreak as new domestic cases continue to be discovered daily.The outbreak has slammed the brakes on travel and tourism, just as data released on Monday shows an Abe-backed tax hike battered the economy in the last quarter of 2019, which contracted by the most in more than five years. The fresh recession concerns are casting doubt on the stability that helped Abe become the country’s longest-serving premier in November.Approval for Abe’s cabinet fell 5 percentage points from the previous month to 47% in a survey carried out by the Yomiuri newspaper Feb. 14-16. The survey found 52% of respondents were dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the virus outbreak.A separate survey by broadcaster ANN found support had fallen 5.6 percentage points to 39.8% and 50% were unhappy with government policy on the disease.Despite the hit in the ratings, Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is not facing any serious challenge to its leadership. A Kyodo News poll showed the LDP was still the most-favored party with support at 40.5%, while the biggest opposition group, the Constitutional Democratic Party, was at 10.9%.Unlike other places that have issued blanket bans on visitors from China due to the virus, Abe’s government has adopted a softer approach with Japan’s biggest trading partner by limiting the restrictions to foreigners who have been in virus epicenters, such as Wuhan. Critics, including the opposition Democratic Party for the People, have called for a bar on all visitors from China, where there have been more than 70,000 cases.Japan has found more than 400 cases of the virus, 355 of them among the passengers and crew from a cruise ship held in quarantine in the port of Yokohama.A series of scandals also continue to take a toll on support for Abe. The survey conducted by Kyodo found 84.5% of respondents said he had failed to clear up a series of allegations including dispensing invitations to a publicly funded cherry blossom-viewing party as favors to his supporters.Some 77.5% of respondents to the Kyodo poll said Japan should rethink its plans to develop casino resorts following the indictment of a lawmaker on bribery charges related to the proposals. Tsukasa Akimoto, an LDP member, has denied taking bribes from a Chinese company.Abe has said he will step down at the end of his third straight term as party leader next year. He need not hold a general election until 2021.\--With assistance from Takashi Hirokawa.To contact the reporter on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon Herskovitz, Ruth PollardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Chinese President Xi knew severity of coronavirus weeks before going public; 40 Americans on cruise ship infected

Feb 17 2020

Chinese President Xi knew severity of coronavirus weeks before going public; 40 Americans on cruise ship infectedPresident Xi Jinping published a timeline of his actions as the Communist Party worked to tamp down criticism of government handling of the crisis.